The wacky world of northern ‘sports’

Gravy wrestling
Gravy wrestling

Who says it’s grim up north?

From grappling in gravy and charming worms, the region certainly has a fair collection of unusual and humorous “sports” which some people, nonetheless, take very seriously indeed.

The Aspull Worm Charming Championships in Aspull

The Aspull Worm Charming Championships in Aspull

Here we take a look at a selection of the wonderfully bizarre events in Wigan borough and beyond that help to set us apart from the rest of the country.

Worm Charming

The unusual sporting event at Aspull Parish Church sees competitors use vibrations to charm as many worms out of their plot of ground in a time limit as they can.

World Pie-Eating Championships

The World Pie Eating Championships. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The World Pie Eating Championships. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

They take place at Harry’s Bar, Wigan, and the winner is the person who manages to eat a standard meat and potato pie the fastest. The current world record is 23.53 seconds, achieved by Martin Appleton Clare in 2012. Before 2006 the competition took place over a set time and the winner was the competitor who ate the most pies during that time. The rules were altered to meet government healthy eating guidelines.

World Kneesy, Earsy Nosey Championships

These have been held annually at the Sons of the Desert’s Wigan Laurel and HarDay since the 1990s and have latterly been at Bryn Masonic Hall. Kneesy, Earsy Nosey is a coordination “game” perfectly executed by Stan Laurel in more than one Laurel and Hardy film (Ollie could never do it). It involves the sitting subjects slapping their knees then quicky crossing their hands in front of their face, one hand grabbing the nose and the other the far ear. They then slap their knees again and cross the hands the other way, gripping the nose and the other ear. This is repeated numerous times. At the Wigan festival, the Grand Sheikhs of the various Laurel and Hardy tents (or branches) adjudicate as competitors sit there performing until a slip-up is spotted and one is eliminated.

Gravy Wrestling

Without a doubt this is one of the world’s craziest culinary competitions. Contestants must wrestle in gravy for two minutes whilst being scored for audience applause and various different moves. It is held at the Rose n Bowl, Stacksteads, Rossendale.

Ramsbottom World Black Pudding-Throwing Championships

In this annual competition the ancient grudge between Yorkshire and Lancashire is played out again – this time by hurling black puddings at a pile of Yorkshire puddings on a 20ft-high plinth. Competitors have three turns in an attempt to knock down as many Yorkshire puddings as possible. The competition dates back to the 1980s.

Egg Rolling

Eggs are rolled down the slopes at Avenham Park, in Preston. In the past these were traditional decorated boiled eggs but now are often of the chocolate variety. The event also hosts an Easter Bonnet competition and has family entertainment.

Rawtenstall Clog Cobbin

Clog Cobbin is a sporting event with origins in the 1970s is held at The Roebuck Inn, Rawtenstall. A traditional Lancashire clog (with a leather top and wooden sole) is thrown as far as possible. Competitors must throw backwards over the shoulder and avoid making the clog land in the river. There are prizes for men, ladies and children. As well as the competition, there are charity stalls and a tug-of-war.

Pram Race

Teams dress up in wacky costumes and push a pram or cart round the streets of Longridge. The event was cancelled last year, but revellers still dressed up and held their own event anyway.

Tractor-Pulling Championships

The sport, held in Great Eccleston, has been dubbed “the world’s most powerful motor sport” and involves tractors pulling weight transfer sledges along a 100m race track. The winner is the tractor that can pull the weight sledge the furthest.